This is a little documentary we filmed in Israel and the US with Christian and Jewish scholars. We asked them how they the biblical authors make meaning and show us how they think of the world. Quite simply, the biblical way of thinking about the world blows down a lot of our conceptual doors, both [...]
Zoom-fatigued? Good, go with it!
One anniversary into the year of our COVID-19, another illness has crept in: Zoom-fatigue. But instead of complaining about it, I think we should embrace our virtual aversion. Or as Emperor Palpatine once said to Luke while our lord and Vader looked on, “Let the hate flow through you.” We are in the COVID meantime, [...]
5 Books that Helped Me Write Better (after I had written a few books)
I have written books, many of which contain prose of which I am ashamed. I remember writing my first book and thinking, "I have NO IDEA what I'm doing." Around the age of 40, I began examining lots of things in my life, including my poor writing. Many people suggested that I could improve by [...]
2021 UPDATE: 23 (+2 more) Things I Learned from Digital-liberated College Students
Last spring, just before COVID lockdown, I challenged The King's College freshmen to a 7-day digital fast from phones, digital media, and screens (where possible). I had them reading my book Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments (table of contents below) and writing reflections each of the 7 days. This year 2021, I [...]
Is progress a dangerous notion?
I keep returning to this problem in my head over and over. I wrote this essay as a reaction to our annual academic competitions at my college. The topic was "progress." And yet, time and again, I didn't see any students ever questioning the notion of progress itself (someone may have, but I didn't see [...]
Jesus Cares about Your Conspiracy Mongering Too
I wrote this article last year about how the biblical authors thought about conspiracies. You can read a free version of the whole article over at christianitytoday.com.
23 Things I Learned from Digital-liberated College Students
I challenged 80 The King's College freshmen to a 7-day digital fast from phones, digital media, and screens (where possible). I had them reading my book Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments (table of contents below) and writing reflections each of the 7 days. After reading 560 of their daily reflections as they detoxed [...]
“What Does the Bible ‘Do’ with Heroes?”
At The King's College, we have a house system and each house has a namesake. Since I began teaching here in 2011, I have constantly wondered what to think and do with some of our namesakes that have mixed histories. Now, this has become a more pressing topic in our community and, of course, the [...]
A Heated Debate over Daily Devotions
I have written two books on ritual, both about what's going on with rites in the Bible and in the church (the academic book and the book for normal people). That doesn't make me an expert, but it means that this is not just another "hot take." The things I said below caused many people [...]
Sirius XM Radio Interview
Go HERE to listen to this 20-minute interview with Father David Dwyer about my book Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments.
Ralph Breaks the TED Talk
“You know, I just saw a really insightful TED talk, and I can't really remember what the guy said, it was more about how it made me feel . . .” —Butcher Boy, Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Excerpt from "When Rites Go Flimsy," in Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments: When TED [...]
Why the U.S. Army is Re-investing in rituals to improve soldiering and counter entitlement
According to an expansive survey of commanders across the US Army, the number one problem identified with new soldiers out of boot camp was their entitlement. This seems to be related to other complaints: "lack of obedience and poor work ethic as well as being careless with equipment, uniform and appearance." Additionally, they found that the [...]
Cars, Coffee, and OnScript
Dr. Jonathan Pennington interviewed my colleague Dr. Erin Heim and I (for Cars, Coffee, Theology) about our roles in co-hosting the OnScript Podcast. Ironically, neither Erin or I were involved in founding the podcast (Thanks Matt B. and Matt L.). It's a great Youtube channel and fun to see Erin's annoyance at the thought of [...]
Top books (that I read) in 2018 (w/o comment)
If you listen to our podcast (OnScript), then you already know some of the books I've been reading. But here are the standouts in no particular order (and note that I still haven't read 50% of the books on my desk right now): Fascinating and compelling books for normal folks: K.S. Prior, On Reading Well: Finding the [...]
Christmas: a bad ritual?
(An excerpt from Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments, ch. 9 "Riting Our Wrongs") "We know that all Christians in the early church celebrated Easter, and that Jesus commanded us to celebrate other rituals like the Lord’s Supper. But the birth of Jesus was not celebrated—either by Jesus or his apostles. And [...]
Book Launch: Human Rites
If you're in New York City on February 28th and want to attend, you can sign up for tickets HERE.
*Human Rites* interview
Steve Martin from the National Council of Churches interviewed me about my forthcoming book with Eerdmans: Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments (available for pre-order on Amazon.com). Click HERE to listen to the interview. As someone who co-hosts an author-interview podcast (OnScript), I was very impressed with Steve. He had clearly read the book—not [...]
New Book: Is the Biblical God Perfect?
The Question of God's Perfection: Jewish and Christian Essays on the God of the Bible and Talmud Series: Philosophy of Religion - World Religions, Volume: 8 Editors: Yoram Hazony and Dru Johnson In this new volume from Brill (edited by Yoram Hazony and me), Jewish and Christian scholars explore arguments for, against, and perpendicular to the idea that God [...]
Reflecting on Meek’s *A Little Manual for Knowing*
Just prior to every semester, the excitement grew. As an undergraduate, I knew that I was going to sit in a room with an expert over fourteen weeks. I knew, no matter what the topic, that I was going to change, hearing age-old terms popularized in culture with new ears—a new grasp, with depth, of [...]
David Dark’s “Foreword” to Human Rites
It's always a humiliating task to ask colleagues (and sometimes friends of friends) to read a book manuscript and say something nice about it. It's basically saying, "Can you read this, but don't grade it, and then celebrate me in writing?" That's not weird at all, right? I was honored by the folks around the [...]